Marketing commonly comes last on a list of small business spending priorities. Trumped by staffing or set-up costs, it gets sidelined by more urgent practicalities.

However, there are ways to get the wheels moving on a marketing campaign for free.

These five marketing tips will help you kick-start your marketing goals.


Social media

Harnessing the power of social media is a must for every small business.

However, the trick is selecting the right platform to pour your energy and time into, David Bobis​ from Studio Culture says.

“Just because a lot of companies are hopping onto the Facebook bandwagon, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to, too,” he says.

“To find the best social media platform for you, you first need to understand your customers, their habits and where they spend most of their time. Do they even use Facebook? Would a LinkedIn strategy work better for your company?”

Don’t make the mistake of setting and forgetting. Successful social media marketing is reliant on consistent updating, informing and responding to customers.


Be the expert

Positioning yourself as the expert in your field kills two birds with one stone: it gets your name in the spotlight and attracts new customers.

Identify your target media and contact the journalist to let them know you are available for comment, public relations consultant Tania Willett​ says.

“Instead of pitching a product or service to the media, I advise clients to make contact with the media and provide them with a summary of their expertise,” she says.

“Journalists are writing stories every day in which they require expert opinion on topics they are writing about.”

Offering to write guest blogs is another effective way to show off your talents. Look for publications such as industry websites and business blogs that accept guest posts.

Public relations consultant Penny Smits recommends submitting articles to LinkedIn.

“Content marketing is a great equaliser for small businesses and LinkedIn is a wonderful tool to get content in front of a largely professional audience,” she says.

“Posting articles into groups that you are interested in connecting with is a great way to get in front of your target audience. Again this is free; it only costs some time.”


Survey your customers

It doesn’t cost a thing to ask your customers how they discovered your business.

Edible Blooms managing director Kelly Baker-Jamieson says this simple question helps her refine marketing strategies.

“We have made a practice of asking our customers ‘How did you hear about us?’ when they make a purchase,” she says.

“It’s free and it gives you great feedback on which marketing activities are working. You can then invest your time, resources and limited budget on the things that return to your bottom line.”
Charge up your SEO

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is essential for a good Google ranking and driving more customers to your website.

Yet, many business owners find SEO confusing and don’t know where to start.

Tom Sadler from digital marketing agency indago digital says there are free ways to improve a site’s Google rankings.

“One of the ways Google ranks websites is by looking at how many relevant links you have pointing to your site from other websites,” he says.

“Business owners should make a list of every supplier and every piece of software that they use.

“They should then contact the suppliers and offer to write them a positive review for the supplier’s site. In the review, they should include a link back to their own website and immediately they will have built some highly relevant and, most importantly, free links.”

For those who know nothing about SEO, there are plenty of free online resources including SEO SiteCheckup​. It tests your site’s SEO by providing a score and recommendations to fix problems.


Consistent branding

Does your business have a uniform look and feel?

Natasha Buttler​ from Boost Marketing Services says consistent branding promotes the image of unity and professionalism.

“I once worked with a large manufacturing company with a sales team of approximately 30, all of whom had different business cards and different interpretations of the logo,” she says.

“I wrote brand guidelines for the company explaining the importance of a consistent look and feel and created a range of templates for the company including business cards, email signatures, sales and promotional collateral, corporate uniforms and stationery.

“The staff become a team and were proud to be working for the company and customers felt they were dealing with a professional company.”

*article courtesy of Herald Sun*